Latest update: 3/1/2005; 5:18:13 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ Take a Number

An excerpt from the Turkish Daily News:

 I assume everybody knows that Turkey is full of historic and cultural treasures.

  Unfortunately, much of it has been stolen and taken overseas.

  Just think about the Bergama Museum in Berlin and the Treasure of Troy at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.

  Whenever I go and visit the Bergama Museum, I am always amazed how an entire temple was moved there.

  It's not only the temple. There are also the mosaics stolen from Antakya at the Louvre Museum. No matter what important museum you visit around the world, you will definitely see a piece stolen from Turkey.

  Now, the people of Bodrum are preparing to go to the European Court of Human Rights for the return of artifacts stolen from Halicarnassos.

  They announced their intention at the EMITT Tourism Exhibition in Istanbul. Bodrum Mayor Mazlum Aðan, the director of the documentary �Antique Halicarnassos� Remzi Kazmaz, nongovernmental organizations, artists and lawyers are ready to apply to the court to demand the artifacts back. I believe the Halicarnassos Mausoleum is at the British Museum in London.

  Melina Mercouri, who was the Greek culture minister, had tried very hard for the return of the Elgin Marbles from the British museum. Her dream was to see the day of their return. She was not successful.

  I hope the people of Bodrum are luckier.

::Saturday, February 26, 2005 7:15:52 AM::

~ Caligula's Obelisk

A pile of reviews have passed my screen of an exhibition called Creating St. Peter's ... this one, from the Washington Post, is the first one to give considerable shrift to the obelisk in St. Peter's square:


"Creating St. Peter's" includes other extraordinary objects, some of which have never been exhibited, Fletcher said. One of the most intriguing is a massive capstan, or winch, like those that were used to move an Egyptian obelisk to the center of St. Peter's Square.

The 83-foot-tall obelisk, brought to Rome about A.D. 40 by the emperor Caligula, loomed over a "circus" that, under Nero, saw the deaths of many Christians. According to tradition, Peter was crucified in the circus, upside down, between A.D. 64 and 67 and buried nearby.

Viewed by early Christians as a reminder of Peter's martyrdom, the obelisk fell or was pulled to the ground after the fall of Rome and remained on the proposed site for the new basilica. In 1586, it was decided that the 327-ton obelisk would be moved 275 feet from the basilica site to the center of what is now St. Peter's Square.

In a feat similar to the moving of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse 413 years later, the obelisk -- laid on its side rather than remaining upright -- was inched along a specially created track to its new location using a series of 40 winches to nudge it along. Each winch was operated by four horses and a team of humans that kept the three-inch-thick ropes aligned for precision and poured water on them to prevent sparks from igniting them, Fletcher said.

The process of moving and raising the obelisk took four months. The 193-foot-tall lighthouse was moved more than half a mile in three weeks using a computerized hydraulic jack system.

::Saturday, February 26, 2005 7:13:50 AM::

~ Following the Rules

I think I've mentioned before that one of the things that arrives regularly in my mailbox is something called Schott's Friday Miscellany ... this week's selection was different words for 'rule by ...". Ecce:

Rule by…
Bishops - exarchy
Judges - kritarchy
The poor - ptochocracy
Slaves - doulocracy
The worst possible - kakistocracy

::Saturday, February 26, 2005 7:11:19 AM::

~ Herpes in Ancient Rome?

The ExpressNews Online makes this claim:

In ancient Rome, an epidemic of fever blisters prompted Emperor Tiberius to ban kissing in public ceremonies.

So ancient herpes led to a ban on kissing? You know I have to check this one out. Poking around the web one finds myriad sites devoted to herpes (that doesn't sound right) which echoes this claim. One exception is a Christian site which claims the ban was on something called "cotidiana oscula", because it had become a fad, but upper class types were reluctant to greet lower class types in this manner (they cite a  book by Dr. Christopher Nyrop,The Kiss And its History, 1901, (reissued in 1968) p. 15). The use of the phrase 'oscula cotidiana', of course, tweaked my memory of Suetonius' Life of Tiberius ... in Chapter 34 we read:

Cotidiana oscula edicto, item strenarum commercium ne ultra Kal. Ian. exerceretur.

So ... was this one edict (i.e. banning open kissing on January 1 as well as gift trading? In regards to the gift giving, the passage in Suetonius notes that Tiberius used to give gifts four times the value of what he received and folks were clearly 'taking advantage' of it). Or was there one edict specifically banning cotidiana oscula? Whatever the case, we are not really told of the reason for it, near as I can tell ...

::Saturday, February 26, 2005 7:08:13 AM::

~ Classics (?) Lecture

Check out this recap of a department of Classics Winslow Lecture at Hamilton College:

Elizabeth Castelli, associate professor of religion at Barnard College, presented the Department of Classics’ Winslow Lecture on Thursday, Feb. 24, in the Kirner-Johnson Red Pit. Castelli explained that her lecture, originally titled “Martyrdom and Meaning-Making in Ancient and Contemporary Christian Contexts,” would take on slightly different concepts and topics; her discussion would not be limited to Christian contexts but rather extended to contemporary U.S. foreign policy and the use of torture.

Castelli began by discussing the familiarity of the “martyr;” “the martyr story is really hardwired into Western and Christian culture,” she said. From a New York Times review of a Bruce Springsteen’s 2003 concert in East Rutherford, N. J., to the infamous 1968 Esquire cover depicting Mohammed Ali as St. Sebastian, American popular culture has embraced the idea of the “martyr.”

Martyr allusions are so common, Castelli explained, that once you start looking for them, you will see them everywhere. “What are we to make of the martyr figure we see everywhere in Western and Christian society? What does the idea and utilization of the martyr do for the current U.S. political setting,” she asked. “It flips martyrdom and looks at the other side; what does this mean?”

Castelli then went on to discuss the role of the martyr and how it brings up a discourse of power and power struggle. As martyrdom serves as the cornerstone of Western culture, the idea and importance of the martyr has led to some of the most controversial topics of the twentieth century, including the idea of state sponsored violence. Castelli asked the audience to think back to the controversy surrounding the Timothy McVeigh trial and the trial for the bombers of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya; the courts’ fear was that these individuals would be seen as martyrs, only perpetuating violent behavior, she said.

Martyrs evoke juxtaposing ideas and emotions, making them even more inspirational and suspicious. People are intrigued by their refusal to accept the dominant system.

Similarly, the American public is ambivalent toward their compulsion to align themselves with or against power, Castelli explained. She then used this idea to compare martyrs and tyrants. “They have one thing in common: compulsion.”

Castelli then delved into an extensive analysis and discussion of the Federal Religious Freedom Act. The movement that brought the act to Congress seven years ago, she explained, “weaved together the martyr story and the story of the United States as a religious sanctuary.” According to Castelli, although many Congressional officials attempted to separate religion and politics, making religion a neutral issue, this simply cannot be done. Through the legislation, one can see two interlocking narratives at work: Christian martyrdom and religious persecution in the United States, she concluded.

The “persecution complex” or “persecution process” has evolved over time as the definition of persecution has changed. This process has evolved from oscillating, flip and examining the idea of the martyr and looking at the opposite side of “martyrdom” in a critical way. “It is built on a series of opposing binaries…including good versus evil,” she explained. “A continual turn of the tables is required in order for both martyrdom and persecution to occur.”

This process, according to Castelli, is the focus of contemporary American foreign policy. The persecution complex has become “the language of the law, especially when it seeks to define what it seeks to contain, “that” being religious persecution.
Castelli then explained how, through the idea of the persecution complex, there is a “deep logical connection” between the “profound contradiction” of torture versus religious freedom in U.S. policymaking. She said that she was not excusing or rationalizing the United States’ use of torture but rather pointing out how these two conflicting ideas both contain roots that can be traced back to the idea of the Christian martyr. Both torture and religious freedom both contain the idea of powerlessness versus domination, juxtapositions intrinsic to the idea of the martyr.

Castelli received her A.B. in English and American Literature from Brown University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in religion from the Claremont Graduate School.  Her recent publications include Martyrdom and Memory: Early Christian Culture Making (2004) and Interventions: Activists and Academics Respond to Violence, an anthology co-edited with Janet R. Jakobsen (2004).

A specialist in biblical studies and the cultural history of early Christianity, she has become increasingly interested in the "afterlives" of early Christian texts and figures in the contemporary U.S. context.  She is currently at work on a new book: Persecution Complexes: Identity Politics, the Language of Victimization, and Christian Activists on the Global Stage.

... so, where were the Classics?

::Saturday, February 26, 2005 6:47:30 AM::

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

5.00 p.m. |HISTC| Beasts of the Roman Games
This program tells the story of how the Romans procured and transported thousands of wild animals from every corner of their Empire to feed the blood-thirsty sensationalism of "to the death" animal fights in Rome.

HISTC = History Television (Canada)

::Saturday, February 26, 2005 6:40:46 AM::

1. n. an abnormal state or condition resulting from the forced migration from a lengthy Classical education into a profoundly unClassical world; 2. n. a blog about Ancient Greece and Rome compiled by one so afflicted (v. "rogueclassicist"); 3. n. a Classics blog.

Publishing schedule:
Rogueclassicism is updated daily, usually before 7.00 a.m. (Eastern) during the week. Give me a couple of hours to work on my sleep deficit on weekends and holidays, but still expect the page to be updated by 10.00 a.m. at the latest.

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